Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

 |   |  1 min read

Cowboy Junkies: Cutting Board Blues
Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

When the Cowboy Junkies' breakthrough album The Trinity Sessions arrived in '87 music was getting noisy and Guns'N Roses stomped the planet. But the Junkies' famously cheap album -- recorded in a church for a couple of hundred dollars apparently -- captured the imagination, especially their version of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane.

The mood of the album was all of a piece: subdued, intimate and yearning.

People wanted more of the same -- a kind of alt.Americana -- and for a while the Junkies seemed prepared to give it: albums of thoughtful and considered melancholy best enjoyed in times of quietude.

But even back then they were always a more punchy outfit live and what few knew was that their pre-Trinity debut was a scouring, bluesy and dirty guitar-driven affair called provocatively Whites Off Earth Now!! (It's a cracker incidentally, seek it out).

So anyone coming to this sometimes fiery new album would do well to bear that debut in mind because songs like Cutting Board Blues here are aggressive and raw, and in other places there are swathes of elevating, psychedelic strings.

Of course there are also songs like the folksy and obliquely political Someday Soon, and some of those alt.Americana elements remain intact. But this is a much more ambitious affair than some of their previous albums.

My guess is that over the past decade or so the Cowboy Junkies lost their audience -- they have done about a dozen or so albums -- and so if all you heard was The Trinity Sessions you missed their growth, and a fascinating career in which they explored many avenues.

This album however steps out in bold new directions (while not betraying those various discoveries along the way), but in a ballad like Follower 2 you can still hear the rare beauty that singer Margo Timmins possesses.

So while the 20th anniversary edition of The Trinity Sessions revisited (with guests like Ryan Adams) is interesting enough, this rather more brittle album is actually where they are at right now, and is the one to hear.

This could be another breakthrough album for them, but it sounds more like a breakout.

There is a lot of rewarding texture and depth here.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Lee Hazlewood: The LHI Years; Singles, Nudes and Backsides 1968-71 (Light in the Attic/Southbound)

Lee Hazlewood: The LHI Years; Singles, Nudes and Backsides 1968-71 (Light in the Attic/Southbound)

Although Lee Hazlewood (who died in 2007 age 78) enjoys a considerable cult reputation, it rests on two slender, if notable, styles; like Johnny Cash back from the 40 days in the wilderness with a... > Read more

Helen Henderson: London (Ranui/Aeroplane)

Helen Henderson: London (Ranui/Aeroplane)

The name of this expat might not be familiar but six years ago Elsewhere wrote favourably about her second album Twisting Wind which we said was a collection “tough, earthy blues... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Z'EV: He bangs the drum, and then some

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Z'EV: He bangs the drum, and then some

When a couple of writers from the then-recently launched Re/Search tabloid went to visit the experimental percussionist known as Z'EV in 1981, the conversation was esoteric and philosophical.... > Read more

HERB AND DOROTHY, a documentary by MEGUMI SASAKI (Madman DVD)

HERB AND DOROTHY, a documentary by MEGUMI SASAKI (Madman DVD)

This charming, low-key and multiple award-winning documentary introduces two remarkable, modest but fiercely intelligent art collectors, Herbert and Dorthy Vogel of New York who met in '60 and... > Read more